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Microsoft Joins Forces With Enable Ireland to Embed AI Into Assistive Technology Passport

Irish Tech News’March 12, 2020

Microsoft and Enable Ireland have joined forces today to announce a new commitment to embed AI into the Assistive Technology Passport which is being developed to empower people with disabilities to have an independent life. The announcement marks the 20th anniversary of Microsoft’s partnership with Enable Ireland.

Disabled Canadians Feel Excluded From COVID-19 Messaging

Michelle McQuigge / The Canadian Press
March 18, 2020

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair, Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Health Patty Hajdu and President of the Treasury Board Jean-Yves Duclos are flanked by sign language interpreters as they participate in a press conference on COVID-19 at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa, on Monday, March 16, 2020.

Karen McCall clicked eagerly on the link tweeted out by her provincial health ministry, keen to read the promised list of tips meant to help her protect against COVID-19.

Accessibility Essential for Alberta’s COVID-19 Updates: We have no choice but to wait

By Morgan Black -Global News
Posted March 16, 2020

On Monday, an ASL/English interpreter was present during an Alberta Health COVID-19 update for the first time.

It’s a significant moment for the deaf and hard of hearing community, which had called on the government to provide an interpreter or live captioning during the updates.

“It’s about accessibility,” said president of the Edmonton Association of the Deaf, Sarah Snively.

“Ever since the information was released about the pandemic, hearing individuals were kept informed by listening to what is being shared in real-time through all media outlets, while deaf people were left out.”

The BlindShell: An Accessible Cell Phone with Real Buttons

by Curtis Chong
Braille Monitor March 2020

From the Editor: Many of us have had an electronic partner that stays with us almost all the time. It is a smart phone. But many blind people have felt left out in this world of accessible phones, because they lack the interest or the dexterity to use a touchscreen. They want buttons, and they want menus they can hear and use to accomplish some of the tasks that their smart phone buddies using touch screens have.

Curtis Chong offers what may be a good solution. His credentials to evaluate and explain technology are well known to readers of the Braille Monitor, so let us go directly into his article:

Feeling The Accessibility Of Gift Cards

ByAmanda Fugazy
January 21, 2020

Remember all those gift cards you sold for the holidays? Little did you know that gift cards what was once thought of as the gift that keeps on giving, could soon be the gift that bites back.

Recently, a wave of lawsuits were filed against restaurants and retailers located in New York for their failure to sell gift cards that contain braille. These lawsuits allege violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law. New York hospitality employers who sell gift cards should be aware of this new and novel concept, and consider preparing proactively to avoid being faced with similar lawsuits.

eSSENTIAL Accessibility Secures $16 Million in Growth Funding

Business Wire
January 15, 2020

Lead Edge Capital spearheads the round to accelerate, scale and meet escalating demand for Accessibility-as-a-Service

TORONTO – eSSENTIAL Accessibility, the pioneering provider of Accessibility-as-a-Service, today announced the close of a $16 million USD investment round led by Lead Edge Capital.

Accessibility is a business mandate that has arrived with tremendous force. The consequences of not offering accessible experiences are costly and brand debilitating. This new financing will provide eSSENTIAL Accessibility with resources to expand its software platform and pursue rapid geographic expansion to meet escalating demand. It builds on an exceptional year for eSSENTIAL Accessibility which saw a rapidly growing roster of clients, key executive appointments, and market momentum in the white-hot areas of accessibility and inclusion.

Whitehorse Teen can Write eMails Using Her Eyes

‘It gives me a sense of pride to have one bit of independence,’ says Eva von Flowtow Jane Sponagle · CBC News · Posted: Dec 29, 2019

Eva von Flotow won’t take no for an answer.

The 19-year-old Whitehorse woman is fighting for more accessibility.

It’s a cause close to her heart; von Flotow uses a wheelchair. She has quadriplegic cerebral palsy with dystonia, which means she has difficulty controlling how she moves.

Von Flotow is already making change. The Vancouver International Airport is working on an accessible washroom with a lift after she wrote a letter saying none of the washrooms had a lift for people in wheelchairs.

Americans With Disabilities Have $200 Billion in Spending Power. Comcast Isn’t Leaving Them Behind

by Christian Hetrick, Updated: December 25, 2019

James Baldwin thought he’d never see his granddaughter’s face again.

The 18-year Army veteran started to lose his vision three years ago from an injury he suffered in the Gulf War. He lost his left eye and was left with limited vision in his right, reducing his sight to light and shadows. He can see shapes but not faces.

That was until October, when Baldwin put on a pair of NuEyes electronic glasses, which enhance the vision of visually impaired people. Suddenly, he could clearly see his wife sitting beside him. Leaves on trees. A picture of his granddaughter in her basketball uniform.

Accessibility, the Future, and Why Domino’s Matters

November 29, 2019

Technology is changing the way we interact with companies like Domino’s, for sure.

The US Supreme Court last week to weigh in on an argument that the Americans with Disabilities Act should not apply to websites and digital storefronts, leaving intact a lower ruling finding that the ADA does, indeed, apply to digital space. Internet and Web users with disabilities, as well as advocates for accessible design, are breathing a sigh of relief.

The Internet Is for Everyone, Right? Not With a Screen Reader

Blind users have been fighting for a more inclusive web for over 20 years. Are lawsuits like the one against Dominos going to make a difference?

A few weeks ago, Lucy Greco heard a story on NPR about more clothing retailers shuttering their stores and moving online. Oh, great, she thought, recalling some of her past experiences with online shopping: Youre clicking on something that says, graphic graphic graphic, or some numbered file name, or some gibberish like that.

How Technology Can Enable Restaurant Accessibility And Inclusiveness

As a restauranteur, you hope to provide a great experience for everyone who patronizes your establishment. But then the question arises, how does one accomplish this?
By Laura Boniello Miller, Corporate Business Development Manager, JAWS Kiosk program, Vispero – 10.11.2019

According to figures from the CDC, 26% of the United States population identifies with having a disability. That’s 61 million people who may need additional accommodations to enjoy a nice meal out. As a restauranteur, you hope to provide a great experience for everyone who patronizes your establishment. But then the question arises, how does one accomplish this?

SCOTUS Rejects Pizza Delivery Company’s Appeal Over Web and Mobile App Accessibility

By Amanda Robert
October 7, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear Domino’s Pizza Inc.’s appeal over its website and mobile app and whether they are required to comply with federal disabilities law.

With its order, the high court let stand a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which held in January that Guillermo Robles, a blind man, could sue the national pizza chain under the Americans with Disabilities Act if its website and mobile app did not work with common screen-reading software.

Disenfranchised and Disillusioned: Little Progress Made for Voters With Disabilities

Despite suggestions to make voting more accessible, people with disabilities still face barriers. Megan Linton · for CBC News · Posted: Sep 01, 2019

A man arrives at a polling station on the first day of advance voting for a federal byelection in Burnaby South on Feb. 15, 2019. Despite recommendations from an advisory group on disability issues formed by Elections Canada in 2014, little has changed for voters with disabilities as Manitobans prepare to vote in both a provincial and federal election in the coming weeks, says Megan Linton.

Dad’s Invention for Disabled Daughter Gets Recognition at National Contest

by: Glacier Media
August 21, 2019

A device developed by a Saanich father to keep his disabled daughter’s diaper dry has taken second prize in a Canadian national contest.

The CareChanger, a sensory device that monitors for moisture and alerts caregivers to the need for a diaper change, took second place in its category at Innovative Design for Accessibility, a competition of Universities Canada, an organization that includes the University of Victoria.

Jim McDermott said he is meeting with a technology and design firm to discuss taking the device further, possibly to market.

“It might be a little easier now that I actually have an award-winning device to sell,” said McDermott, a retired maintenance engineer.

UW Student Helps to Develop Online Accessibility Tool

Prototype eases web navigation for those with visual impairments Aug. 20, 2019
by Brent Davis
Waterloo Region Record

A University of Waterloo student has helped develop a new tool to make online navigation easier for people with visual impairments.

The prototype, dubbed VERSE Voice Exploration, Retrieval, and Search merges voice-based virtual assistants on devices like phones and smart speakers with screen readers, which can read out the contents of a web page to the user.

Alexandra Vtyurina, a PhD candidate at UW’s David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, collaborated with researchers at Microsoft and University of Washington assistant professor Leah Findlater during an internship at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Wash. last summer.

National Federation of the Blind Applauds Introduction of Greater Access and Independence through Nonvisual Access Technology (GAIN) Act

Urges Swift Passage of Legislation to Preserve Independence of Blind People in their Homes Baltimore, Maryland (July 31, 2019)

The National Federation of the Blind, the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans, today applauded the introduction of the Greater Access and Independence through Nonvisual Access Technology (GAIN) Act of 2019 (H.R. 3929) in the House of Representatives.

The bill was introduced by Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA). This legislation directs the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (the “Access Board”) to develop a minimum nonvisual access standard for home-use medical devices, exercise equipment, and home appliances, and provide for the enforcement of the standard.

Could Assistive Tech Transform the Social Care Sector?

Originally posted 17th July 2019

Learning disability charity Hft has partnered with Tunstall Healthcare, a specialist in connected healthcare solutions, to release a new report on how assistive technology can support and transform the social care sector.

The report looks at the untapped potential of assistive technology and how it can support disabled people, increase independence and free up carers to focus on more meaningful support. It also highlights how assistive technology could help bridge the disability employment gap and get more disabled people into work.

Hft says that with social care funding in crisis and with care needs and demands growing, the realisation of the potential of assistive technology could revolutionise the way care is delivered, bringing about helpful changes for healthcare professionals and users alike.

Caught Out: How CAPTCHA Patterns Trip Up People With Disabilities

22 July, 2019

Ariel Bogle* says people with disabilities face encoded inhospitality and numerous other barriers as they try to access the internet.

Dr Scott Hollier logged into an online portal recently, and was immediately faced with a familiar yet irritating internet question: How many of these pictures include buses?

CAPTCHA security tests, or the Completely Automated Public Turing Test, to Tell Computers and Humans Apart, are not always accessible to people with disabilities sometimes putting them, ridiculously, in the robot category.

I had two choices, said Dr Hollier, a digital access specialist who is legally blind.

Why Do We Fix AI Bias But Ignore Accessibility Bias?

Kalev Leetaru Contributor
AI & Big Data
I write about the broad intersection of data and society.

“As the Web has become increasingly visual, with pages of text replaced by rich high-resolution imagery and video, it has become increasingly inaccessible to those with differing physical abilities who rely on accessibility software like screen readers.”

Silicon Valley has become obsessed with addressing AI bias. As deep learning algorithms have graduated from the academic research lab into the real world, there has become a growing awareness of the implications of their innate biases as their limited Western training data has collided spectacularly with a globalized digital world.

How Charities Can Meet the New Digital Accessibility Standards

Charities are legally responsible for meeting accessibility standards online, but most don’t. Digital accessibility expert Carlos Eriksson of Studio 24 explains what they can do to fix it, starting now. Guest Writer | 20th Jun 19

Carlos Eriksson is Accessibility Lead Developer at Studio 24. Eriksson was named ‘Champion of Change’ in the 2019 BIMA 100 which recognises the top 100 digital movers and shakers, thanks to his decade-long work making the web better for everyone.

In the past couple of years, accessibility has gone from being an afterthought at best, to an often spoken about subject at conferences and water coolers alike.